Technological advancements have allowed us to accomplish what seemed like impossible tasks a few decades back. Technology has become a part of our everyday life, assisting in every way imaginable. We can easily communicate with loved ones, purchase items online and even get a degree, all without being physically present because technology gives us the ability to do so.
Online education has certainly been growing in popularity over the past couple years. Though there are still some negative perceptions about online learning, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.
One of the number one reasons why people choose online learning is because of flexibility. Being able to go to school any time anywhere may seem like a dream come true to a college student with an already hectic schedule. Trying to juggle school, work, friends, family extracurricular activities and other commitments can be extremely stressful. Online courses give students the ability to study at a time that is more convenient for them, which makes it easier to accommodate other responsibilities.
Online courses also improve your writing and communication skills. In most, if not all online classes, there will be discussion boards once in awhile, if not on a weekly basis. The discussion boards allow students to express thoughts non-verbally. Having more time to reflect on your thoughts will always lead to better answers and even better discussions with others.
On the first day of the semester, teachers typically ask students to introduce themselves. If you are a more introverted person, like me and seem to get tongue-tied no matter how many times you speak in front of others, I would recommend you try an online course if you haven’t already. People are more likely to disclose more about themselves in online interactions than they are in face-to-face interactions. This happens because we have more time to think about what we want to say and how it comes off to others, which makes us feel more comfortable sharing our thoughts.
While the benefits of online classes are obvious, the disadvantages may not be. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “with great freedom comes great responsibility.” The key to being successful in online courses is knowing yourself. If you are someone who struggles with time management and procrastination, then it is going to be immensely hard to succeed in an online course. You must be self-disciplined, motivated and well-organized. Though online classes give students the freedom to work at their own pace, just like an in-person class, when an assignment is due, it’s due with little to no exceptions. Students must be constantly on top of due dates and know how to plan ahead.
All the responsibility that comes with online learning can be overwhelming to some, but as I mentioned, the key to being successful is knowing yourself and time management. Managing your time effectively is an important skill to learn and online classes allow you to test those skills and improve upon them.
Western Michigan University has online courses for most majors and minors. In addition, Western also offers some degree programs for undergraduates, graduates and graduate certificates that are completely online.
If you are someone who has wanted to try an online course, but is still skeptical about it, I recommend you give it a try. I took my first online class this past summer. At first it was intimidating. I thought I was going to be slacking off, the workload was going to be overwhelming, I would be forgetting many of my assignments and many other negative preconceived notions. Nonetheless, I wasn’t intimidated enough to drop the class. I persevered an and gained nothing but the benefits that come with the online learning experience.